The Tampa Bay Lightning have made a number of moves since the onset of free agency at Noon on Thursday.... Most can invoke hope, while some of the departures may trigger disappointment, as fan-favorites have signed elsewhere.
The biggest positive from day-one of free agency might not have been a free agent signing at all. Martin St. Louis, the mighty mite and oft-considered the heart and soul of the Lightning, was re-signed to a four-year contract extension. St. Louis was entering the last year of his previous contract, and July 1st afforded them the first opportunity to get him back under contract.
The signing will likely ensure that St. Louis will finish his career with the Lightning.
Antero "Frank" Niittymaki, Finnish goaltender who often stood on his head while team mate goalie Mike Smith seemed mentally elsewhere, signed as a free agent with the San Jose Sharks. And Kurtis Foster, the 6'8" defenseman with the glass-breaking slap-shot, also departed for other pastures (signing a dealw ith the Edmonton Oilers).
The one big free agent signing from Thursday was that of goaltender Dan Ellis. Ellis will replace Niittymaki for the Lightning and likely will push his friend and former teammate Smith for starting time.
And to top this off? Long time Lightning fans may rejoice (or cringe, depending on your opinion of the guy) in the news defenseman Pavel Kubina has been signed. Kubina had been the most tenured Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman in team history up until his departure in the summer of 2006.
Free agency will go on for some time yet, and more moves are expected...